Genevieve Munroe is a Los Angeles based photographer using her art as an open diary and as a way to tell her story, her way. The twenty-six year old artist invites us into her world in her short film “#manicdepression” (featured below) where we watch her live and in action as an ever changing self-portrait. Here, I interview Munroe about her experiences with her mind obstacles and how art plays a part in coping healthily.
What mind obstacles do you deal with?
A: My mind would replay traumatic moments in my life and I would feel guilty. Feeling anxious about work, income, not being in a relationship, and socializing with people. I would get panic attacks when I got stuck in situations, screaming and throwing random tantrums. Sometimes I get chronic pain in my back from anxiety and can’t sleep. The depression gets worse when I feel ashamed about my past relationships with exes, or not being able to finish college because of financial trouble. If it gets worse, like a massive breakdown, I would self-harm myself, but stop because I am scared of the feeling of death. Just want the pain to go away. I describe my mental state like the dark deep bottom of the ocean where it’s impossible to swim up for air and the nocturnal sea creatures are an interpretation of my depression.
When did you first realize you had mind obstacles?
A: When I was young, I had to deal with my parents’ divorce while also dealing with bullying during grade school. I always stood out from my peers and did my own thing. I dress different than the girls, was more of a tomboy, and didn’t follow a group. Being teased did take a toll on me. I questioned myself, “Is there something wrong with me?”. I learned how to cope with it most of grade school, but it got worse when I entered high school. The first two years were aggressive verbal abuse from my classmates and had a few altercations. I was sad and frustrated at that time, but I didn’t feel real depression until I started dating this guy Andrew. The relationship was very toxic. He was manipulative, and we would argue and fight every day. He said negative things towards me because he was insecure. I was so miserable, I started to cut my arms and hoping to die in the bathroom. Luckily, I left him a year later. Struggling for the past decade with depression and anxiety has affected not only my social life, but my creative flow and enjoying my art.
How do you cope with them? What do you do to manage them healthily?
A: Relationship and environment is crucial for me to sustain my mental health. Cutting off negative people that I do not care about or who want to use me. Being around my close friends and family does make me feel grateful for them. They are aware and do care for my well-being even when my mind goes dark for a moment. Learning self-love and taking care of mind and body is a challenge, but doing it day by day benefits me not going AWOL. I take breaks during my creative work and do a few projects at a time to not stress out. My morning routines are yoga, a walk in the park, and then 20 mins of meditation. My career is always something creative whether it’s photography, video production, or writing about video games. My work helps me to keep my mind off negative thoughts and be positive.
What inspired your manic depression video?
A: I was randomly doing self-portraits one night and experimented with dramatic lighting. Then I decided to film myself and see where my art would take me. I didn’t know why, but at the moment, I wanted to paint red down my eyes and started to cry. But as I was editing the film I realized it was me expressing my anger and fear hiding underneath my beauty. People are shocked and confused to see a beautiful woman in pain. I’m somewhat quiet and don’t raise my voice that much, when people push my buttons I get aggravated and go off. Having my voice and emotions in silence throughout the video is an example of that. My favorite part was slow-spitting a flower out of my mouth.
What are you trying to convey with your video? What do you want your viewers to understand about it?
A: There’s a lot more to anxiety and depression than just feeling sad. Many folks have a misconception of people with depression or of those who have committed suicide; thinking that we are selfish and won’t handle situations well as an adult. Not understanding how deep the illness is and what living situation the person is going through. I keep my personal issues private and want the public to see the fun side of me, but I want to show to people who do have mental illness that you are not the only one and we can get through this. I don’t expect anyone to feel or understand my pain, but to have a conversation about mental health and how we as a society can find better solutions.
What advice do you have for anyone dealing with manic depression?
A: Always look for different methods alongside psychological therapy and medication. If you are not comfortable with your doctor or therapist, seek for others in the field that fits for you. Depression does not go away overnight but learning to self-control while dealing with conflicts can decrease it. Exercising and eating right can also fight off depression. If there are people who are toxic in your life, get rid of them. They will slow you down and not want you to grow as the person you want to be. Even if you don’t have a lot of friends, it’s still fun to go out by yourself and explore. If there’s a hobby or career you really like, go for it and do what makes you happy and not for anyone else. Having manic depression or any mental illness is not a sign of weakness. You are brave and strong, survive through your struggles and continue to live.
Georgia St. Jones is a California broke girl using music, art, and literature as a way to be universal and staff contributor for The Strange is Beautiful.
Follow her here: Instagram, SoundCloud.
See her latest posts here.